There was a time when designing a building or facility was done in a large hall, which housed numerous architects, planners, designers, and engineers all drawing on blueprints laid on large lighted drawing tables. Once the plans are drawn, the same teams then come up with a scale model of the design, which is built and encased in glass.
That time passed and came to AutoCAD, which stands for automated computer-aided design. AutoCAD allows designers to draw and modify their 2D plans more efficiently with the use of the software. AutoCAD also enables designers to do faster and more accurate computations with the use of software technology.
The time of relying solely on 2D drawings in AutoCAD, too, has passed. Design and construction nowadays use building information modeling (BIM) or what’s called BIM software for engineers. With BIM, all teams involved in the design and construction process input their drawings that are integrated into one dataset and central master plan.
In addition to the terms associated with BIM, here are other important things you need to know about BIM software:
1. BIM Objects
In recent years, BIM software has been featured in building and construction news. Its users attest to the numerous benefits and advantages of using BIM software.
One explanation for the revolutionary contributions of BIM to design and construction is that it has included the various things that are usually used or added to a design. Designers can conveniently add these characteristics to their designs by simply adding BIM objects.
A BIM object refers to any aspect of a building which isn’t included in its structural characteristics. They can be components or layered objects.
- Layered objects are those BIM objects that have no fixed geometric shapes. They include most design features, such as ceilings, roofing, walls, and carpets.
- Component objects are those BIM objects that have fixed geometric shapes. Examples of component objects are electrical works, doors, windows, air ducts, structured cabling, plumbing and piping, boilers and heaters, etc.
With BIM, your designers don’t have to repeatedly draw these characteristics and objects one by one. They can simply add them from an existing library. This makes the design process faster, easier, and more efficient.
2. Common Data Environment (CDE)
The most crucial feature, which makes BIM software so radical and revolutionary in its impact to design and construction, is the common data environment (CDE). This is how information in a BIM model is shared. The CDE is an online space, which is mutually and commonly accessible by all users who’ve been given permission to access the design model.
The CDE is where all the data and design inputted are collected and referred to as an ‘information model.’ It can be used at all stages of the process, from inception, design, construction, and even up to the operation.
3. BIM Levels
There are different BIM levels, which start from 0 and move on to 4D, 5D, and, sometimes, even up to 6D BIM. These levels refer to the amount of information being shared and managed and measure how such information is effectively used for the design and construction process.
- Level 0 refers to paper-based drawings where there’s zero collaboration.
- Level 1 refers to the use of 2D construction drawings and some 3D modeling.
- Level 2 BIM starts to work in a collaborative manner. At level 2, all project teams work using 3D CAD models, although, sometimes, not using the same model. There’s already some amount of collaboration through the use of the same file format.
- Level 3 BIM happens when all teams are collaborating by working on the same 3D model. This means that all teams are now working on the same data set in a single central environment.
- Levels 4,5, or 6 BIM are achieved when other aspects of project management are included, such as information on schedules, materials expenses, and sustainability.
4. BIM Enables Integration
BIM is very useful to all those involved in the construction process because it allows architects, engineers, and interior designers, as well as electrical, plumbing, and heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) contractors to collaborate in an integrated and comprehensive environment.
Before the use of BIM, the task of designing any building or facility was a very complex and disparate process, which required various specialists to do their part of the design separately, without them being factored into the overall design process.
In pre-BIM construction, architects first made the structure or building design. Once they saw what the architect had in mind, the engineers would then have to conduct some tests on the structural durability and integrity of the design based on actual physical stresses, such as weights, foundational strength, and seismic movement computations.
5. BIM Vastly Improves Quality
BIM enables the various teams involved in the design and construction process to vastly improve their quality because each and every update done by all teams is immediately incorporated into the same design. This is crucial in improving quality across the entire project because all the teams would always be looking at the same complete and updated information.
BIM further improves quality because it reduces the amount of time that the design teams have to spend on checking and cross-checking documents, diagrams, plans, and blueprints. Because they’re working on a single dataset, this enables the automated tools of BIM to detect design clashes.
It allows the various teams to change and edit their plans as often and as frequently as necessary, without having to worry about the need to communicate the changes they’ve made to the other teams.
Integrated Information In Construction
BIM software has radically and significantly changed the design and construction process by enabling the various stakeholders and teams involved in the project construction to work in a more collaborative manner. BIM has allowed designers, engineers, managers, technicians, and specialists to work together within a platform by combining their inputs, shares their information with other teams, and unifying their efforts.